Indian Americans Condemn Display of Bajrang Dal flags at New Jersey Indian Independence Day Parade
New Jersey (August 14, 2023) — Indian Americans strongly condemned the hateful display of flags associated with the Hindu militant group Bajrang Dal at an August 13 Indian Independence Day parade in Edison, New Jersey. The Bajrang Dal is a violent Hindu supremacist group and the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), whose members in India have a long history of killing Muslims, calling for Muslim genocide, and leading violent processions which devolve into attacks on mosques and Muslim homes.
After those waving the flags intimidated Muslim attendees, police asked them to leave the parade. IAMC members notified local authorities of the incident and provided video documentation of the men displaying Bajrang Dal flags. IAMC commends local law enforcement for taking swift action to address the hateful display.
“Waving a Bajrang Dal flag at an Indian Independence Day Parade is just like waving a KKK flag on July 4th: absolutely unacceptable,” said IAMC New Jersey Vice President Niyaz Khan. “Such actions not only tarnish the significance of the parade but also promote divisiveness and intolerance within the community and celebrate a group involved in numerous acts of brutal violence against India’s minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians.”
“We thank the local law enforcement officials and the county prosecutor’s office for taking swift action against these fringe groups that attended the parade to spread their hateful rhetoric and divisive ideology in the communities here. The matter is currently under review by the Middlesex county prosecutor’s office,” said IAMC President Mohammad Jawad.
Following the inclusion of a vicious anti-Muslim hate symbol at last year’s parade — a bulldozer with pictures of Hindu supremacist leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath — the IAMC had already called on the parade’s organizers, the Indian Business Association (IBA) to exclude and remove all displays of Hindu supremacist groups from the procession. This year’s parade rules explicitly prohibited the display of anything other than Indian and American flags, and any hateful or offensive material from processions.
“Authorities need to understand that Bajrang Dal members are responsible for countless killings of Muslims and Christians in India,” said Minhaj Khan, an Indian American community leader who was part of the parade.
“When people wave Bajrang Dal flags, these constitute explicit threats to Muslim Americans. We must learn from last year’s hate incident and this years in order to assure this never happens again,” Khan added.
Bajrang Dal is the youth wing of the broader Hindu militant organization the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Both organizations were instrumental in organizing violent processions during the religious festival of Ram Navami this year, leading to violent anti-Muslim incidents in varioys Indian states. Bajrang Dal and VHP members also helped organize and execute one of the most brutal anti-Muslim mass killings in recent Indian history, the Gujarat Pogrom of 2002. During the pogrom, more than 2,000 predominantly Muslim Indians were killed, hundreds of mosques were destroyed, and an incident known as the Naroda Patiya massacre transpired. During the massacre, Bajrang Dal militants killed and burned alive 97 Muslims in an apartment building. Babu Bajrangi, a Bajrang Dal leader sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the massacre, was recorded as saying, “We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire … we hacked, burned, set on fire … we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be crematedI will finish them off … let a few more of them die … at least 25,000 to 50,000 should die.”
Bajrang Dal members also regularly murder Muslims whom they believe to be slaughtering or transporting cattle in acts known as “cow vigilantism”. Bajrang Dal leader Monu Manesar was this year accused of burning two Muslims alive and in April 2022, members of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad murdered a Muslim teenager who had purchased cattle.